Johnny Sexton exasperated at crucial Wayne Barnes calls in final stages 2 years ago

Johnny Sexton exasperated at crucial Wayne Barnes calls in final stages

It was the final question of a fully forthcoming press briefing and Johnny Sexton was lost for words.

Following Ireland's 21-16 loss to Wales, the first query put to Sexton was about the knock he took to the head in the final stages. Inevitably, though, Wayne Barnes would come up in the conversation.


"I'm okay now," Sexton said when asked about his head colliding with the knee of Justin Tipuric.

"I obviously got a bang on the head but I feel okay now, I got a bump on the side of the temple but I should hopefully be okay when I go through all the return to play protocols and hopefully I'll be okay to return to training next week."

Many in Ireland would not have complained with the red card that was flashed at Peter O'Mahony, after 13 minutes, but there were cries for Welsh players to be sent to the sin-bin on three separate occasions. Each time, Johnny Williams, Alun Wyn Jones and Nick Tompkins were allowed to stay on the field.

Before he headed off to the team bus, Sexton was asked if Barnes had left his cards in the dressing room at half-time. Taking a long, deep breath, he responded:


"Yeah. You said it. It's clear for me. Tompkins sticking his hand out, the hand in the ruck, I don't know what else to say. I'm not blaming that, I blame ourselves for the loss but when you show the bravery that we showed, they're tough to take but it's not a surprise really."

Before he had taken his seat in the briefing room, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell had been in the same chair as he reflected on some of the big officiating calls that cost his side.

"Obviously the red card and a couple of decisions that could have gone our way regarding yellow cards, etcetera, that will be reviewed. On the back of that, some errors that we invited them back into the game with... I've seen them [red card calls] given before so I'll let people who get paid to assess that do that."


On the lack of yellow cards shown to the Welsh, Farrell commented, "I don't know whether they'll be reviewed or not, I don't know whether they agree or not but in the cold light of day, from what I saw, there was one or two there."

Farrell felt Johnny Williams could have been binned for a head-on-head clash with Garry Ringrose. "I don't know what the mitigating factors were or what was said on the field but there's that and a few more things we'll need to go through and assess," he said.

"But having said that, we were still in control of our own destiny. We gave a couple of crucial penalties away that got them back in the game, one exit scrum where we knocked the ball on and that gave them the try.

"A valiant effort, I thought we played some really good stuff at times and asked a lot of questions, but at the same time, we were in the fight up until the death to win the game but if a few more things had been a bit tighter that were in our control, we could have won the game."

Up next is a confident France side in Dublin, next Sunday, and Farrell says Ireland will need to 'give the performance of a life-time' to keep their championship hopes alive.